SC should've dealt with suit challenging remission of Montie 3 long ago - Lawyer

Montie Trio123 The Montie contemnors were granted Presidential pardon and released from jail.

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 Source: rainbowradioonline.com

A private legal practitioner, lawyer Nii Bi Ayi Bonte has posited that, the Supreme Court should have dealt with the suit challenging former president John Dramani Mahama’s remission of the sentence of the Montie trio last year.

Hearing of three separate suits challenging the decision by the former president to release the Montie trio has resumed at the Supreme Court.

The court presided over sole judge; Justice Apaw granted the request of the Attorney-General for extension of time to file the state response to the suit.

The current Executive Secretary for the President, Lawyer Asante Bediatuo, Mr. Elikplim Agbemava and Mr, Alfred Tuah all initiated legal action seeking an intervention of the Supreme Court to reverse President Mahama’s decision to remit the sentence of the trio from four months to one month but the state delayed in filing a response.

The state has been given seven (7) days to file it statement of case to respond to the issues raised by the parties.

The applicants are arguing that upon a true and proper construction of Articles 14(1)(b), 19(12), 72(1), (3), 125(1), (3), 126(2) and 127(1) of the 1992 Constitution, the purported grant of a remission of the punishment of four months imposed on Salifu Maase also known as Mugabe, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, was in excess of the powers conferred on the President of Ghana by Article 72(1) of the Constitution 1992, an unjustified interference with the independence of the Judiciary and thus, an affront to the Constitution of Ghana.

They are accordingly seeking an order declaring as null, void and of no legal effect, the purported grant of a remission by the President of the punishment of four months imposed on Salifu Maase, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, citizens of Ghana duly held by the Supreme Court of Ghana for having acted in contempt of the Supreme Court of Ghana.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ayi Bonte in an interview with Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm indicated that, should their request be granted, it will sound political as some may say, the new administration purposely initiated the legal action although it was filed long before the 2016 elections.

He explained, Article 2 of the Constitution allows an individual who alleges that, any person vested in authority has done anything which is inconsistent with the constitution to seek a determination or declaration from the Supreme Court.

Per his legal view, the lawyers have done well for taking the steps to test the law on the matter.

‘’It is within the rights of the persons who have taken the matter to the Supreme Court to seek that declaration. I don’t have a problem with that. But if you ask for my candid opinion; you see when the former president swore the Oath of Office, he promised to uphold the laws of Ghana, and one of the laws of Ghana is the fact that, anybody convicted of contempt under the Prisons Service Act, is not entitled to any remission. It is a clear language. I don’t know who advised the former president to do what he did...’’

The lawyer added, the judiciary is the only body that remains after any coup hence if the Supreme Court in their wisdom jailed the trio, it does not lie with the president to grant them pardon. ''It’s a spite in the face of the Supreme Court'', he added.

‘’That particular action of the former president was wrong. I think he was swayed by political activists because the persons were alleged to be working for the party.’’

He added, ‘’this other writ by lawyer Attuah which I have seen, was filed way before the elections which led to the defeat of former president Mahama. The Supreme Court should have taken action quickly because if they also give any decision which is contrary to what the former president had earlier on determined, people will say that because the former president is no more in power, they are now bold to give a decision.’’

The lawyer stressed further that although the former president had the power to pardon, ‘’He is also subject to the laws of Ghana...This one affected justices of the Supreme Court...The former president shouldn’t have remitted the sentence...The trio committed an offence which goes to undermining the administration of justice in this country. And that is why i think the former president faulted...’’

The trio were sentenced after the apex court found them guilty of contempt last year. They were also fined GHC10, 000 each.

They were later released after serving a month in prison after the president remitted their sentence.

Source: rainbowradioonline.com
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